October 8, 2018 / 8:01 AM / 2 months ago

Poland expects U.S.to be 'very active' at global climate talks

WARSAW (Reuters) - The United States will be “very active” at December’s U.N. climate discussions even though Donald Trump pulled out of the global accord, the incoming Polish chairman of the talks said.

“The U.S. delegation will appear in Katowice and for sure will be very active, that was confirmed during the talks I had on this subject in Washington,” Michal Kurtyka told Reuters.

Kurtyka, a former Polish deputy energy minister, said that although the United States had said it would quit the 2015 Paris Agreement, this would “formally only be possible in 2020”.

While the accord set a sweeping goal of ending the fossil fuel era this century, its text was vague on details.

A U.N. report on Monday warned that temperatures are likely to rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if global warming continues at its current pace and if the world fails to take rapid and unprecedented measures to stem the increase.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) met last week in Incheon, South Korea to finalize the report, which is seen as the main scientific guide for government policymakers on how to implement the Paris Agreement.

This will form a key part of the agenda for environment ministers from almost 200 governments when they meet in Katowice, the heart of Poland’s coal-producing region, Silesia.

TURNING POINT

Kurtyka said that a U.N. meeting in Bangkok in September was a “turning point” when it comes to how the negotiating parties will try to reach a “good result” in Katowice, but a number of sticking points still has to be resolved, including how to finance reducing climate change.

A surge in carbon emission prices had influenced the Bangkok talks, Kurtyka said. Carbon prices have more than doubled this year, with utilities ramping up hedging ahead of supply cuts coming into effect from 2019 and as more speculative traders entered the market.

“The increase itself is not surprising. What is surprising is the fact that it happened in such a short time. The question is to what extent it reflects the economic fundamentals and to what extend this is a pure market game,” Kurtyka said.

The sudden increase of carbon price is unlikely though to accelerate decisions regarding new low-emission energy projects in Poland, Kurtyka said.

“I assume that a long-term energy policy will be presented by the end of this year, including potential decisions regarding photovoltaic or offshore wind,” he added.

Poland generates most of its electricity from carbon-emitting coal, but plans to reduce it to 50 percent of its energy mix by 2040.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Alexander Smith

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